Laughter, chatter and the spirit of Christmas filled downtown Nazareth Thursday night during the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Overlooking a crowd of townspeople of all ages, Dan Thierry, the first vice-chairperson for the Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce, called the ceremony "a wonderful tradition."
"Nazareth is a very special place, and it's events like this that make it so," Thierry said.
Local dignitaries such as State Representatives Marcia Hahn and Joe Emrick, and Nazareth Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr. wished the gathering a Merry Christmas.
The Nazareth Area High School Brass Ensemble and The Dream Kids performed some of the season's most loved songs.
The man of the hour, however, was still on his way.
Shortly after the lights on two trees were switched on, the flashing lights of one of Nazareth's emergency vehicles became visible at the intersection of Main and Belvidere streets. After a short parade around Center Square, the ladder truck entered the circle, carrying the fellow the children were waiting to see most -- Santa Claus.
Scores of children -- many of them enthusiastically yelling, "Look! It's Santa!" -- ran to the edges of Center Square to get a better look at the jolly old fellow.
Santa and Mrs. Claus disembarked, said hello to the crowd and got right to work listening to children's wishes. Every child went home with a toy and a candy cane.
The Nazareth Moravian Church provided free hot chocolate.